On the same day that the Tampa Bay Rays unveiled their innovative plans for a new waterfront stadium…
The Twins Get Young-er and Stronger
The Twins and new General Manager Terry Smith planned to make some waves this winter, and on Wednesday night, pulled the trigger on their first blockbuster deal of the new regime. The team parted ways with 2006 top prospect Matt Garza, starting shortstop Jason Bartlett, and one of their key reliever (Juan Rincon), in exchange for one of the better young bats in Major League Baseball. In addition to Delmon Young, the Twins picked Brandon Harris and Jason Pridie.The move does plenty to bolster the Twins, who now add a strong right-handed bat to hit in the middle of Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. Young drove in nearly 100 runs last season, his first full year in the Major Leagues, and adds instant pop to a lineup that seemed anemic at times last season. Only 22-years old, Young could be a mainstay in the middle of the Twins lineup for the next decade.The loss of Garza, who many believed to be the team's number three starter next season, gives the Twins a better look at their crowded rotation. If the Twins can somehow lock down Johan Santana for next season, the rotation should look like this: Johan Santana, Francisco Liriano, Kevin Slowey, Boof Bonser, and either Scott Baker or Nick Blackburn, who is coming off a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League.All told, the move could turn out to be a big upgrade to the team's chances of challenging in the American League Central.With the addition of Harris, he seems like the likely choice to supplant Bartlett as the team's starting shortstop next season. The 27-year old batted .286 for the Rays last season, smacking 13 home runs, while scoring 72 times. He appears to be an upgrade on the offensive side, and is very versatile, playing shortstop, third base, and second base for the Rays last season. He was actually incredible at second base, making only one error.If Harris moves to second base, the Twins may move Alexi Casilla to shortstop, where he showed the ability to have great range in the Minor Leagues.Pridie, who will only be 24 on Opening Day, has all the ability to be an everyday centerfielder in the Major Leagues. He batted .290 in Double-A before being promoted to Durham of the International League, where he batted .318. A speedster, Pridie swiped 26 bases in total last season, and hit 14 home runs. He could be the one who takes Torii Hunter's place in center for the Twins in 2008.In the season started tomorrow, here is a look at what the starting lineup could look like for the Twins.1B: Justin Morneau2B: Brandon Harris3B: Brian Buscher/Matt MacriSS: Alexi CasillaLF: Jason Kubel/Craig MonroeCF: Jason PridieRF: Delmon YoungDH: Michael CuddyerC: Joe MauerHowever, with a Johan Santana trade seeming a likely possibility, the Twins could have a completely different look. Still, you have to believe that the future looks bright, and the team could still get younger, and stronger. While the loss of Garza will hurt, it could be a blessing in disguise.
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